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The Hunt for Content (Matrix Pt 1)


The hunt for Swedish movies & shows that will take you furthest & fastest distills to a phrase: “svenska för hörselskadade” – Swedish for the hearing-impaired.

When browsing for video titles, make your primary criteria the availability of Swedish audio, with closed captions in Swedish, alternately described as simply "subtitles," "textning," "text," or "svenska för hörselskadade". I think I've even seen it abbreviated as "SFH" on a DVD case.

Although most videos will provide subtitles in English, the goal is to follow the story in Swedish, get familiar with the Swedish words and syntax, and simply hear Swedish. It’s not possible to translate word-for-word (in either direction), so the English subtitles will just mess things up all the way around.

Lean on your dictionaries for translating to English and build your native understanding. As you learn the characters and the plots, you'll find you stop translating to English. That's the power of learning Swedish in a compelling context. You pragmatically map the words to a situation which you understand.

The nuts & bolts, then: look for Swedish audio and “svenska för hörselskadade” on the back cover if you’re browsing titles on DVD or Blu-ray. If you’re shopping online and there’s no pic of the back cover, look for the list of audio languages and subtitles.

In an upcoming post, I will present a method for inserting ready-made Swedish subtitles into videos which don't already have them. For now, make your life easy.

So here's the real trick, and I hesitate here because now I'm going to have to compete with all of you for content.* On the other hand, if we collectively start buying up the all Swedish movies, the free market will respond and the drought will be temporary.

Amazon is a global company; what you can't find on Amazon.com, you might find at Amazon.co.uk, or Amazon.de. Your US Amazon account will work. Amazon and most of its resellers (in Amazon Marketplace) will ship to the US. In one case, I just bugged a reseller until he relented and started shipping here.

eBay is also a source for titles, if only rarely. Most eBay sellers will ship worldwide.

As for digital content, both Amazon and Netflix have some Swedish movies and shows. They include Swedish audio of course but never have Swedish subtitles. I’ve kept track of the ones I’ve found. They’re at the end of my list of things to watch, along with the DVDs I have which don’t have Swedish CCs.

* I'm comforted in this respect by the low probability that this blog will end up rocking the language-learning world.


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